Organizing Your Blog with WordPress Categories
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Both categories and tags allow you to organize your blog content on WordPress, which helps you keep track of your posts and helps your visitors find what they need. It’s important to understand the difference between the two in order to know how to use them correctly and effectively.
Notice we said categories and tags organizer your blog content and not your site content. Typically, the pages on your site have their own navigation menus, so they don’t really need categories or tags. Therefore, both tags and categories are limited to posts. (Note: It is possible to add them to pages with the help of a plugin. But there’s no built-in way for adding them to pages.)
In this edition of WordPress Wednesday, we’re going to talk about all things categories. We’ll come back to tags in a future post.
Categories for Your WordPress Blog
Categories are designed to group your posts in a broad way. They kind of represent a table of contents for your blog. If you think of your blog like it’s a book, categories point readers to their topic of interest so they can skip to the part they need, without needing to read “cover to cover.” Categories also add a hierarchy to your site, which can improve SEO.
Blog categories are helpful to both you and your site visitors. Grouping your posts by category helps you with your content strategy, as well as with keeping track of your published content. On the user’s side, categories help visitors find the specific information they need and find it faster.
Determining Your WordPress Categories
Large businesses may have 5-10 categories for their sites. However, less is more for most businesses, and 3-5 categories is optimal. Keep in mind that the more categories you have, the harder it is to keep them organized. At the same time, because categories are hierarchical, they can have subcategories! So, if you’re struggling to narrow it down to 3-5 categories, see which of your category ideas could be nested under a broader topic.
Example of Categories and Subcategories
Let’s pretend we’re visiting a women’s style guide website. The stylist might choose Tops, Bottoms, Accessories, and Beauty as their content categories. The hierarchy of categories and subcategories might then look something like this:
Naming Your Categories
Blog post categories can and should be descriptive and are not limited to 1-2 words. However, don’t get clever with them. Think in terms of what users will be searching for and use your top keywords in your category labels.
Also, name the categories in a similar or “parallel” way. That is, they don’t have to fit neatly into some kind of formula, but don’t make three of your categories 1-word actions (e.g., Eat, Workout, Meditate) and one of them a 6-word question (e.g., Are you taking the right supplements?).
Default WordPress Category
Every time you create a post, WordPress will categorize it. If you haven’t created and added categories to your site (or if you create a post and forget to categorize it), WordPress will categorize posts as “Uncategorized” by default. There’s no “none” option for post category in WordPress.
If you have a new website or blog – and therefore don’t yet have enough content to categorize it – we recommend you go into the WordPress dashboard and change the label of the default category. Words like “General,” “Misc.,” or even “Other” sound more professional than Uncategorized.
At the End of the Day
Can you see how the intentional creation and use of categories for your blog posts benefits both your business and your audience? If you don’t have categories, we recommend creating and categorizing your content as soon as possible. The longer you wait, the more clean-up will be required.
And if you already use categories for your content, do a quick audit of your posts to make sure your posts are properly categorized.